Civic Action

Five Lessons on Civic Engagement from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

April 20, 2017  • Haili Lewis

In March 2017, the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, joined the Latinos and Society Program for a conversation on civic engagement and the Latino community. During the conversation, the Justice shared several calls to action for Latinos and non-Latinos alike that can bring about a more civically engaged society. You can watch the full video here.

Engage a child that you know

The Justice reiterated the value of engaging children in their community and the need to “show them the meaning of helping someone else.” Consider visiting a local elderly home with your child or picking up trash with your family at your neighborhood park. Participating in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts of America offers children great opportunities for civic engagement.


The Justice explained that voting is a necessity and responsibility because “whatever happens is because we don’t take control and ensure that our voices are heard.” Register to vote here.

Encourage schools in your community to add iCivics to their curriculum

The Justice advocates for civic education and is on the board of iCivics, which teaches students “about our democracy, about our system of government, and about the rights and obligations that they have in that system.” Learn more about iCivics.


The Justice emphasized the importance of civic engagement, explaining that “we create our community. And we create it by being active participants in our community.” Find volunteer opportunities in your community here.

Pay it forward

The Justice shared her belief that “all of us who have been given the privilege of education, the privilege of knowledge, we have an obligation to pass it on, to pay it forward.” If you have the privilege of an education and knowledge, consider paying it forward by donating to help individuals receive scholarships, mentor a student or young professional, or go back to your alma mater and talk to students.

One major theme of the Justice’s discussion was that little things can be done in your own community for the civic good of the entire country. She mentions that “if everybody takes a little piece of every problem, it will go a long way.” These five recommendations are all great ways to start becoming more civically engaged.

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